Apple is reportedly asking its manufacturing partners to investigate moving iPhone production to the United States, according to the Japanese newspaper Nikkei. According to the report, sources claim that Apple has approached Foxconn and Pegatron, the two manufacturing companies that are largely responsible for assembling iPhones. Foxconn is apparently exploring the possibility, while Pegatron has elected to decline due to cost concerns.
According to the Nikkei, Apple made the request to explore moving manufacturing to its partners in June, prior to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the recent election. But despite that, this report has to be considered in light of Trump’s comments regarding Apple earlier this year. Trump has repeatedly suggested that Apple move its manufacturing back to the US. His most recent comments were made in January at a talk at Liberty University where Trump said, “We're gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries."
Moving iPhone production overseas would likely be a pricey endeavor, with Nikkei sources claiming that it would increase production costs by nearly 50 percent, which makes sense given that the vast majority of Apple’s part suppliers are already located in Asia. Motorola also tried to move smartphone manufacturing to America, but the experiment ended in 2014 when Motorola closed the factory due to costs. Apple has made some efforts in bringing hardware production back to America in the past — most notably, the Mac Pro in 2013, when the company invested over $100 million dollars to jumpstart production — but relocating iPhone manufacturing to the United States would be a move of a vastly different scale.